Cork City 0 - 0 Sligo RoversLADY LUCK
donned a Sligo shirt and, late on, helped Rovers to take one point and take one step closer to the Airtricity League title after a scoreless draw with Cork City at Turners Cross last night (Friday).
Cork threw the kitchen sink at Sligo in the second half.
There were just 13 minutes left on the clock when Kalen Spillane thundered a corner kick by Ian Turner onto Gary Rogers left hand post, the rebound caught Joey N'Do on the small of his back and -- incredibly, luckily, it bounced away to the left for Gary Rogers to grab gratefully.
The number '13' was already featuring big in this game, Sligo had come into it on the back of a 13 match unbeaten run.
Games between the two sides have been tight this season, Sligo won 1-0 in Cork earlier in the season while the tie between the two ended tied at 2-2 in the Showgrounds back in July.
That Spillane thunderer last night was the best chance in the entire game.....but not the final one.
Tired and Tame
Cork almost stole the match with a gilt edged chance in the third minute of added time and with just 42 seconds left in the game.
A clever dummy left Shane Duggan teed up for glory but his tired and tame shot was, luckily for Sligo, straight at keeper Gary Rogers.
Sligo survived. Manager Ian Barraclough pulled no punches when he was interviewed on Setanta as the game ended.
In the first half, when Sligo were well on top, manager Barraclough said there was some ''sloppy'' passing of the ball.
Of the second half Barraclough said simply and with refreshing honesty: ''It was wide open. We could have been picked off.''
In particular, Cork defended desperately and yet counter attacked with pace and precision in passing. It caused Sligo problems...in particular the pace at which defence changed to attack.
Thankfully, were missing was a marquee striker in the mould of Sligo's Mark Quigley or Danny North or Padraig Amond in recent years.Clean Sheet
On the positive side, Rovers kept (another) clean sheet and have now only conceded two goals in their six recent games.
Sligo were unfortunate to lose Seamus Conneely two minutes before half time.
This injury saw Danny Ventre move from his customary role in front of the back four.
Joey N'Do was always accomplished in most things he did without ever suggesting he could deliver something special on the night.
N'Do heads for something special off the field, ie a fourth League medal with three different clubs - one of a small band ever to achieve that distinction.
Big Sligo support had travelled yesterday by car, bus and even by train to cheer on the Bit o' Red by the Leeside. No Fears
The bookies suggested the game could only go one way; Sligo were 4/6 on to win, with Cork at a distant 4/1 to win, a realistic reflection of 18 goals conceded by Cork at home in Turners Cross. Sligo hasn't conceded that amount all season, home and away.
Rovers have now played 27 games, won 16, drawn ten, have scored 49 goals and conceded just 17. Only one game has been lost. They remain the League's top scorers. It s a stunning season by any reckoning.
On those figures Rovers will have no fears whatever facing into a fortnight when they meet, Pats and Drogheda, the two teams locked six points behind them in the table.
Last night an attendance of just over 3,000 saw a ding-dong struggle between City and Rovers which, sometimes, had the frantic edge of a Cup tie neither side could afford to lose.
There were goalmouth incidents, some fine outfield displays and more than a half-quota of entertainment. The result, too, was in doubt to the final seconds, literally.Great Cheers
None impressed more so last night than John Dunleavy on the right midfield flank for Cork. The young Donegal man was named Man of the Match to great cheers from the home crowd.
Could Dunleavy be on the Sligo shopping list for season 2013? The physique and positioning of the 21 years old Ballybofey man suggests he could/should be.
Meanwhile, Mark Quigley has now played well over 200 minutes of football without scoring....although he will be happy -- and the Showgrounds will be happy -- if he is reserving something special for the upcoming visit of second-placed St Patricks Athletic, Quigleys former club.
Sligo has a double reason to seal the League title with a win against Pats next week. Failure to win all points in the corresponding fixture in 2011 cost Sligo Rovers the title late in the race.
Sligo started last night with the same side that thrashed Derry City 4-1 at the Showgrounds a week ago.Right Roasting
Rovers certainly had the better of the opening half hour, with Paschal Millien giving Danny Murphy a right roasting in front of the home fans.
He also set up Mark Quigley for one of Sligo's better chances later in the game but the striker hit a weak shot as he fell.
Millien also had a chance when he found himself with space in the box he but shot across the goal and wide.
N'Do ballooned a second half chance fro the edge of the area into the midst of the travelling Rovers fans behind the goals when a chip or a lob to the far post seemed a better option.
Earlier in the game, Rovers seemed content to try for scores from longer range.
Danny Ventre -- before Conneely's injury restricted his role -- belted a 25-yard shot just inches wide.
The Tubber tornado Rafael Cretaro was also just wide of Mark McNulty's goal after he intercepted a stray pass by Daryl Horgan.
Sligo's second half showing was disappointing, and much as manager Ian Barraclough described it.
Gary Rogers stopped Ian Turner in the 66th minute, when he did well to palm away his testing shot with a diving save.Cork City:
Mark McNulty, John Kavanagh, Kalen Spillane, Kevin Murray, Danny Murphy, John Kavanagh; John Dunleavy, Daryl Horgan, Shane Duggan, Brian Lenihan, Ian Turner, Vinny Sullivan. Subs: Colin Healy for Lenihan, half time; Stephen Kenny for Horgan 84th minute.
Gary Rogers, Seamus Conneely, Gavin Peers, Jason McGuinness, Ross Gaynor, Paschal Millien, Danny Ventre, Joseph N'Do, Rafael Cretaro, Mark Quigley, Lee Lynch. Subs: David Cawley for Conneely 43rd minute; Liam Buchanan for Millien 83rd minute.Referee:
Derek Tomney (Dublin).